Flanked on one side by the Persian Gulf and on the other by Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the tiny country of Kuwait, with its population of just over 4 million, is one of the richest countries in the world. Kuwait is home to the sixth largest oil reserve, the highest-valued currency, and the fourth highest per-capita income on the planet. And come February 9–11, it’ll also be host to the first annual Maker Faire Kuwait. We spoke with one of the lead organizers, Ahmad Alsaleh, to learn more about the maker community in Kuwait and how makers can apply to share their projects at the Faire.
1. Why did you decide to organize a Maker Faire in Kuwait?
At the international level, Kuwait has been the Arab region’s main driving force behind science and technology innovation and is flourishing in the scientific research sector, with 384 patents registered, the second highest figure in the Arab world. Kuwait has undergone large-scale modernization due to a strong oil-based economy. We also have the highest gender equality among Middle Eastern countries.
Aspiring makers need to be able to showcase their creativeness and innovations, so that with proper appreciation and attention, they can become even more dedicated. Thereby hosting a Maker Faire in Kuwait is an important milestone in Kuwait’s Maker Movement. Also, makers and enthusiasts from nearby countries can attend the event and showcase their ideas and products.
2. What organizations are involved with putting on the Faire? Where will it be held?
Maker Faire Kuwait is organized by software and hardware company Creative Bits Solutions as well as the Kuwait Investment Company (KIC). Creative Bits is focused on innovations and the latest technologies and is connected with the Ministry of Education Kuwait and the fab labs powered by the Sabah Al Ahmad Center for Giftedness and Creativity. Creative Bits provides the latest 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC mills, etc., to all existing fab labs here. They are also the authorized distributor of SparkFun Electronics and Dobot in the Middle East and provide ongoing projects for the Makers Academy in Kuwait, working to enhance the local Maker Movement. KIC provides investment capital for the technical status of the nation and also helps advance technology and innovation in Kuwait.
Maker Faire Kuwait will be held at the Kuwait International Fair, the largest event space available in the country.
3. You’ve attended Maker Faire New York previously. Tell us about the project you presented at the Faire.
EBOT (Educational Robot) is the simple and powerful platform consisting of easy-to-use snapping bricks, open source electronics, and user-friendly software. EBOT was created by two engineers — myself and Nasser Al Khalidi — to bring simplicity to robotics. While we were participating in Maker Faire New York in 2012, many people suggested we make our concepts into a consumable product or kit to offer a new strategy in the STEM-based educational system. Since then, EBOT has created a great presence in Kuwait with the help of the Ministry of Education. EBOT also has an international following and is used at schools and other training institutes in the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, and India, with 40,000 users across the globe.
Robotics is the branch of mechanical, electrical, and electronics engineering and computer science that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. So robotics is the perfect area that integrates all the main engineering branches. Robotics has become simplified in recent years, so DIY enthusiasts can easily work in this field. Even kids can create robots of different kinds and functionalities.
EBOT offers customizable and extendable open source kits for all ages with colorful interlocking plastic bricks accompanying an array of gears, wheels, and various other parts. Any structure constructed can be taken apart easily. Makers can create different structures and functionalities for their robots, showing their skills. Since the main controller board and sensors are designed by own R&D team, makers are capable of using them to create big projects like Battlebots.
4. Tell us about the maker community in Kuwait.
There are many DIY enthusiasts and makers in Kuwait. They are able to make many things using the available facilities, such as FabLab Kuwait. Since we focus on innovations and prototyping, there are many inventors and patent holders who have already developed their products using various technology. Hosting a Maker Faire in Kuwait will be a good way to support and showcase their projects and concepts.
5. How can makers apply to exhibit at the Faire? What is the deadline for your call for makers?
Makers can join the event by downloading the “MAKER FAIRE KW” app to their device. They can register their participation in the event by providing their details and uploading a short video about their projects. We will keep updating the app with information and details.
6. What has been the community reaction to the upcoming Faire? Is there a lot of support and enthusiasm?
DIY enthusiasts and participants are anxiously waiting to showcase their ideas and their products at the Faire. We are getting much response from the maker community. The first Maker Faire in Kuwait will be a milestone for the Maker Movement and will provide the energy and momentum for the makers, as well as for the organizers, to step forward for future events and activities.